June 01, 1998 12:00 PM

by Ron Suskind

Within a single year at Washington, D.C.’s Ballou High School, a boy was shot, a girl knifed in a gang-related fight and a body dumped behind the parking lot. Amid this chaos was Cedric Jennings: a soft-spoken calculus whiz, gifted singer and son of a devoutly religious single mother pushing mightily to make the rent and survive.

Ron Suskind, a Wall Street Journal reporter who won a 1995 Pulitzer Prize, paints an absorbing and moving portrait of the young man’s passage from the turmoil of high school through his lonely first year at Brown University. It is a tough journey, but Jennings’s perseverance and success offer hope to anyone struggling against the odds. (Broadway, $25)

Bottom Line: Inspiring tale of a youth traversing two worlds

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